I took a bit of an unusual approach when selecting a recipe to share with you today. I picked the yummy strawberry-cantaloupe salsa that topped her Jamaican Jerk Burgers and combined it with the grilled chicken from her Coffee-Spiced Grilled Chicken and turned them into a hybrid recipe: a main dish salad! It was 105 here in San Antonio on Saturday, so a refreshing and light salad was exactly what I wanted to make for our dinner. This salad was full of flavors thanks to the spice blend on the chicken and the sweet-spice of the fruit salsa. I served the salad with simple cheese garlic bread.
I tweaked the spice rub on the chicken just a bit to add a few more spices that I thought would pair well with allspice and ginger. The only tweak I made to the strawberry-cantaloupe salsa was to use lime juice instead of lemon and sub in a hatch chili for green bell pepper since I can't eat bell pepper. The flavors in this salad paired very well together: a little sweet, a little spicy...and a little bit of salt from the addition of some crumbled feta.
Salad With Strawberry-Melon Salsa and Coffee-Spiced Grilled Chicken
Step 1: Make a wet rub for the chicken by combining the following ingredients in a large bowl: 1 tbs. olive oil, 1 tbs. instant coffee, 1 tsp. allspice, 1/2 tsp. ginger, 1 tsp. sea salt, 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika, and 1/2 tsp. cumin. Stir to combine. Add two boneless chicken breasts and coat both sides in this mixture. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours to let the flavor permeate the chicken.
Step 2: Make the fruit salsa by combining the following ingredients in a medium bowl: 1 cup chopped strawberries, 1 cup diced cantaloupe, 1 tbs. finely chopped cilantro, 1/2 finely diced hatch chili, 1/4 cup finely diced red onion, and the juice and zest of one small lime. Stir well to combine and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
Step 3: When you're ready to make the salad, cook the chicken. You can grill it, but I pan-seared it in 1 tbs. olive oil in a non-stick pan over med-high heat. NOTE: I noticed the coffee aroma of my wet rub was very strong, so I rinsed my chicken and seasoned with salt and pepper just before I cooked it! While the chicken is cooking, prepare the salad.
Step 4: Put 4 cups red leaf lettuce, 1/3 cup julienne carrot, 1/4 cup crumbled feta, 1/3 cup chopped candied pecans and about 1/2 cup Newman's Own Light Raspberry-Walnut dressing in a large bowl. Toss to combine and divide the salad between two plates. Top each with about a cup of the strawberry-cantaloupe salsa. When the chicken is cooked, sliced it and place on top of the chicken.
This salad was refreshing and delicious, and the vibrant colors just popped off the plate! Rinsing the chicken was a good call, because the coffee flavor was still pretty prominent in the chicken. Next time, I think I'll reduce the amount of coffee in the rub to 1 tsp. to avoid having to pre-rinse the chicken before cooking. As you can see, the chicken comes out golden-brown and moist. And the fruit salsa? It's so good...sweet and just spicy enough!